Wednesday, June 16, 2010

...about that seattle cop...

everybody's seen the video by now -- a seattle cop named ian walsh gets into a shoving match with a 17 year old black girl and punches her in the face. hard. it's pretty compelling stuff, him pulling his fist back as swiftly as he did, with or without the backstory. partly because every news organization all over the world is showing it over and over and over again, sometimes in slow motion, like peckinpah. and like peckinpah, the violence becomes more disturbing the slower it gets. was it racist? who knows. clearly, this cop was losing control of the situation and (according to the seattle authorities) he did what he was supposedly trained to do to regain it. but when even bill o'reilly comes down on the side of the black teenaged victim, it should give anyone reason to pause.

what happened?

the cop stopped the 17 year old black girl and an 18 year old woman for jaywalking. jaywalking! who gets arrested for jaywalking? everybody does it -- which is probably why he wasn't taken seriously when he spoke to them in the first place.

not only did they verbally berate him when he told them to come over to the police car (surprised?) but one of them even walked off dismissively. (i mean, wow. some would get a bullet in the back for that one.) once he put his hands on the 18 year old, she began to struggle in an effort to get away. the 17 year old got in between them to defend her, a shoving match ensued, and then they were off to the races. so the upshot of it all is, he didn't hit this girl because she was jaywalking. that's why he stopped her. he hit her for putting her hands on him, for resisting arrest, for being a public nuisance, for obstructing an arrest. and so on.

there's a lot that's wrong with this picture.

i found this situation sickening to a dizzying degree, mostly because neither of the victims seemed to have any real respect for authority. both of them were blissfully unaware of protocol -- how to talk to police officers, how to behave when one approaches you, what is illegal and what is not. jaywalking is one thing but once he told them to come over to that police car and put their hands on the hood, it was a whole other ball game. they should have known that.

it's also especially unnerving because they never seemed to understand how much danger they were in. anything could have happened. his gun could have gone off "accidentally," if you know what i mean. happens all the time.

don't get me wrong. i don't like cops. i'm sure there are good ones, but too many of them move forward full tilt on the slightest assumption, violently and with menace, trafficking in stereotypes to harass decent hardworking law abiding black folk everywhere. whether you're driving while black, opening your front door, out with friends on the eve of your wedding day or simply a black ivy league professor in your own home, minding your own business -- racial profiling by the police will come for you sooner or later, if you're black. that's why i assume i'm dealing with a bad cop when i deal with any of them. if i'm right, no harm done. and if i'm wrong, it's a pleasant surprise.

thank God someone's camera phone was fully charged and at the ready, or we would never have known about any of this. well. i would, because it would have been our news item -- the kind of thing we discuss amongst ourselves ad nauseum (like girl x) and white people refuse to believe because there's no proof. but even when there is proof, there's no proof. didn't we learn that lesson with rodney king.

whatever happened to officer friendly?

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